This is going to be the weird part, because it’s the part where I argue both for and against having more than one publisher. I’ve already had this argument with myself, several times, and here’s how it came out.
Different publishers have different audiences. The people that read Dreamspinner may overlap with Loose Id, but not all of them. The ones who read Riptide may overlap with Samhain, but not all of them. Moving a book or books to another publisher gets my name in front of a group of people who might, otherwise, have been unaware of me.
Some books are better suited to certain publishers, whether judged by genre or amount of sex. I know, if I’m planning on something for Loose Id, there better be lots of hot sex, and sexual tension, or it’s not going to fit their brand. But I don’t always write high sex stories, and I have a few that are sitting on my hard drive because I’m wavering between jacking up the content, or hunting for another pub.
Some publishers are better at different genres than others, or have a decided preference for them. Riptide likes military and police stories, though they’re actively pushing to expand that range. Loose Id really likes scifi and urban fantasy, and seems to do well with it. Dreamspinner puts out a lot of epic/high/paranormal fantasy. Samhain seems to be strong in contemporary. I’m not sure about Carina–they don’t seem to have developed a brand for their MM yet. Siren does well with shifters and ménage, the hotter the better.
Working with different editors. I really like the Editor in Question, but I often wonder–just like moving to a different sports coach or teacher in school–if there are things that I could learn to do better with another editor. Notice I don’t say “in place of”, but in addition to. I’m not willing to give her, or my family at Loose Id, up.
Branding by publisher might make it easier for readers to see right away what they’re getting, just from the cover styles. Riptide’s covers are very different from Samhain’s, which are different from Dreamspinner, which are different from…you get the gist. With so many people buying from places like Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble, visual genre differentiation is important so readers don’t end up with a book that isn’t what they assumed it would be.
In the case of financial or sales issues, such as what’s happening with Ellora’s Cave and Musa, it means that all your eggs aren’t in that one basket.
It makes scheduling releases a little more complicated, since I’d be working with two or more sets of release schedules. Which happened last year, when my original release schedule had two books coming out within two weeks of each other. (Thank heavens, that changed.)
Editorial styles could get confusing. Particularly for the grammar bits and pieces.
If I want readers to buy straight from the publisher, since that keeps more money in my pockets and the pockets of the people who make it all possible for me, should I make it more difficult for readers to do that? As in, if one book they’re interested in is at Loose Id and the other at Dreamspinner, will they go through the trouble of setting up an account at both pubs, or will they just go to Amazon?
I know I have a good editor at Loose Id. The idea of going to another pub and not being happy with editing or other aspects of the process makes me extremely uneasy. And, since you have to sign the contract before you can even start editing, it’s like buying a pig in a poke. You have to take the seller’s word that you’ll be happy. (Though I suppose I could argue for a clause letting me out in the case that I’m really disturbed or upset by the editing. The issue there is that you don’t always realize what’s being missed until the reviews start rolling in.)
I’m still slightly on the ‘more pubs is better’ side, but I waver a lot. Currently, my plan is to try it out with one book, which has the potential to become a series. We’ll see after that. I’ve become a lot more cautious after the past year and I have no plans to scatter stories hither and yon over the internet.
Still not sure which pub to try first. 😛